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Gainesville's new wastewater plant uses latest technology
Output from $55 million facility like drinking water going back into Lake Lanier
Kelly Randall, director of the Gainesville Public Utilities Department, speaks at the official grand opening of the Linwood Wastewater Treatment Plant Friday as Mayor Myrtle W. Figueras and city council member Robert L. Hamrick look on. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Gainesville officials gathered Friday at Linwood Wastewater Reclamation Facility to applaud those who spent years making the newer, high-tech facility possible.

Gainesville's Public Utilities Department spent $55 million renovating the plant that now returns cleaner water to Lake Lanier than the original plant did.

"It truly is like drinking water," Public Utilities Director Kelly Randall said.

The new facility, almost completely enclosed in two brick buildings, limits the odor and the noise associated with wastewater treatment.

"Because of the visibility of this facility we wanted to limit the noise, and of course make it aesthetically pleasing," Randall said.

Built by Vermont-based Pizzagalli Construction, the upgraded Linwood plant has been in operation since November. Its treatment system uses technology similar to those used in drinking water filtration, and removes most of the harmful nutrients in the water, such as phosphorous and nitrogen. Friday, public utilities employees showed city employees around the plant and explained how the new technology works.

"It was kind of like going from bows and arrows to taser guns," Randall said.

Utilities officials say the new Linwood plant treats wastewater at an even higher quality than the city's Flat Creek plant, which recently received national recognition for its environmentally friendly practices.
Before it was renovated, the Linwood plant was not capable of removing phosphorous from wastewater.

Now the sewage plant can treat twice as much wastewater -- 5 million gallons per day -- than it could before. As Gainesville grows, the plant was built so that it could be expanded to treat up to 7 million gallons of sewage per day.

"We wanted to be able to build a facility that left us room to be able to upgrade this facility in the future if that's deemed necessary," Randall said.

Gainesville officials from all departments gathered for a barbecue Friday in celebration of the efforts of Public Utilities employees, engineers and contractors who spent years working on the design, construction and everyday functions of the plant.

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